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An Otherwise Unremarkable Day

An Otherwise Unremarkable Day

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Published by neptuneauteur
Psychologists say that ninety percent of what one learns is incidental. The events in Edward P. Jones’s short story, “The First Day,” a first person narrative in his collection, Lost in the City, affirms that.
Psychologists say that ninety percent of what one learns is incidental. The events in Edward P. Jones’s short story, “The First Day,” a first person narrative in his collection, Lost in the City, affirms that.

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Published by: neptuneauteur on Feb 15, 2008
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06/14/2009

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 An Otherwise Unremarkable Day 
 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
Psychologists say that ninety percent of what one learns is incidental. The events inEdward P. Jones’s short story, “The First Day,” a first person narrative in his collection,
 Lost in the City
,
 
affirms that.It is the first day of school and the narrator “
On an otherwise unremarkable day…”
makes her trek to “…
Seton Elementary, a time-worn, sad-faced building 
[that stands]
across the street from
…[the church that the narrator’s mother attends]
Mt. Carmel  Baptist...”
And it is here that the young narrator learns the lesson of a lifetime, most particularly concerning life in America.On arriving at “…
Seton…school…
…[a]
woman… standing just inside the school door…
[and]…
with pearls thick as jumbo marbles that come down almost to her waist…”
greetsthe narrator’s mother. (p. 28)In addition to her …
 pearls…
[the]…
woman
…,” a teacher, resembles other 
“…women… greeting other parents and children
…” They all appear to be cut
“…out of theadvertisements in Ebony
[magazine.] (p. 28)When the narrator’s mother informs the teacher “…
that we
[the mother and the narrator]
live at 1227 New Jersey Avenue
…the teacher (p. 28) after what “…
 seems
[to be]
 picturing in her head where they
[the narrator and her mother]
live…
[the teacher]
then…
10/6/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
of 4
 
ISBN -00679258-X)
1
 
 An Otherwise Unremarkable Day 
 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
 shakes her head and says…”
the narrator’s mother has brought the narrator to“…
the wrong school 
…” (p. 28) Later at “…
Walker Jones… a larger, newer school 
…” a place the narrator “…
immediately like
[s] the mother remains agitated. The mother’s response to theheavily
 pearled 
teacher at …
Seaton Elementary School 
…has been, “…‘
One monkeydon’t stop no show’ 
…”(p. 29)The
 show
about which the mother speaks is that of getting her child, the narrator,educated. But Jones’s story is about much more than education.America is a place where people come—a culture into which those born—arecommanded to endeavor toward the achievement of their 
dream
(s). The desire of thenarrator’s mother for the narrator to attend …
Seton Elementary
… is intricately bound tothe mother’s
nightmare
--that of lacking an education.Inside “…
the crowded auditorium
[at]
Walker-Jones…school 
…” the narrators mother approaches “…
a woman at one of the tables
…” She asks the
woman
 Is this wherethey register for school 
?’…”(p. 29)Looking “…
up as if she has heard this question once too often…the woman…nods
[yes.]
10/6/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
of 4
 
ISBN -00679258-X)
2
 
 An Otherwise Unremarkable Day 
 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
On “…
 picking up a few pieces of paper from the table…
the narrator’s mother then asks,
“…‘These the forms I gotta use?’...”
 
“…The woman tells
…” the narrator’s mother 
“…that she need fill out only one…”
(p.30)But there is a problem. And this is where the “…
unremarkable…”
 becomes theextraordinary.The narrator’s mother on looking about the room then asks the woman at the table,
… Would you help me fill out this form?... …I can’t read…”
(p. 30)
“…Why sure, says
[t]
he woman…
” at the table. [A]
 ppear 
[ing]
happier…”
the woman
“…finishes the form for her and her daughter…
” The narrator 
step
[s] “…
aside..”
Sheand her mother 
“…find two chairs nearby and sit…”
(p. 30)“…
The
[narrator’s]
mother answers the questions the woman reads off the form…thequestions go on…
[and]
with the purposefulness of a magician
…” the narrator’s mother “…
takes
 
 from her pocketbook document after document… as if they would support 
…”the narrator’s “…
right to attend the school 
(p. 30)
10/6/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
of 4
 
ISBN -00679258-X)
3

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